Step 4: Assess Then Overcome Common Barriers to Advocacy
Many school psychologists struggle to embrace advocacy for the profession as a personal responsibility. However, for the advancement of our professional standards to be realized, we must all work together as advocates. In order to plan an effective advocacy campaign, we need to consider what the commonly stated barriers are and how to overcome them:
- School psychologists are reluctant to advocate because they believe that advocacy for the profession is simply about self-promotion and not ensuring access to school psychological services. Overcoming This Barrier: Students benefit from access to appropriate services designed to address their needs. Advocacy for our profession is about helping to ensure that students have access to the school psychological services they need. It is about the students first.
- School psychologists lack knowledge about effective advocacy and communication strategies. Overcoming This Barrier: Many school psychologists report that they don't feel that they have the knowledge about how to craft advocacy messages or the advocacy strategies that are most effective. NASP has communication resources and advocacy resources available to assist school psychologists in developing the skills, strategies, and resources to effectively talk about our profession.
- School psychologists prefer certain roles over others and focus on providing services in those areas despite the need to provide comprehensive, integrated services to be more responsive to students and schools. Overcoming This Barrier: We all have our likes and dislikes when it comes to our jobs. However, it is critical that we consider the breadth of services we offer based on the needs of our students, not just our own personal preferences. School psychologists have both a contractual obligation and an ethical obligation to provide quality school psychological services and supports to students in need. The national standards that articulate the scope of practice for school psychologists are found in the NASP Practice Model standards. The NASP Self-Assessment for School Psychologists is a great tool to help school psychologists begin to consider what they do and how it matters to the consumers of their services.
- School psychologists assume that school administrators, teachers, and parents are familiar with their training and expertise, so they work in response to what is asked of them instead of what they could offer to meet the needs of students, educators, and schools. Overcoming This Barrier: It is our responsibility to educate administrators, teachers, and parents about our knowledge and skills. We need to make the connections for others between what a student needs and the type of services we can offer to support those needs. Sharing the NASP Practice Model brochure is a great way to begin helping others understand how we can be the best possible resource to them.